Johnson fundraiser returns for finale

The live auction, always a fun part of the Suzanne Johnson Scholarship Endowment Fundraisers, gets underway at the September 2015 celebration. This year's Grand Finale fundraiser will take place this Saturday, Sept 15 at 5:30 p.m. at Hidden River Ranch, 10715 S. Hwy 281, Lampasas.





By Savanna Gregg

Staff Writer

Burnet Bulletin

For the past six years, one of the most anticipated events in the community has been making a difference for the town's graduating seniors by providing nights of entertainment, fellowship, and fun for all of its guests.

The Suzanne Johnson Scholarship Endowment Fundraiser is returning for one final hoorah on Saturday, Sept. 15, at Hidden River Ranch in Lampasas. The event has captured the hearts of the entire community since 2012 after it was developed to honor the memory of Suzanne Johnson, late wife of First State Bank of Burnet President Cary Johnson.

Suzanne passed away in 2011 after a three-year battle with brain cancer, and is remembered for the philanthropic values she brought to the community she and Cary called home. The Suzanne Johnson Scholarship Endowment was created through the Hill Country Community Foundation by Johnson and his children, Jessica Lindsey, Cari Ann, and Jack, as a one-time memorial which bloomed into a yearly fundraiser that has made a significant impact on the community.

“Not only is it a tribute to Suzanne, but a way to give scholarships to the graduating Burnet seniors,” Johnson said. “The Hill Country Community Foundation has been a great support for this.”

Since its debut, the fundraiser has given $81,000 in scholarships to Burnet graduates and has raised $895,000 for the endowment. Johnson, his family, and his crew at First State Bank of Burnet have a goal to reach $1,000,000 at the Grand Finale. With the support of the community, it does not seem like an impossible task.

“The community has really stepped up and helped,” said mortgage lending officer Linda Holland. “Everyone has given something every year.”

“We cannot say enough about the community,” added executive vice president Sallye Long.

The money raised at these fundraisers has contributed to a large sum which has been distributed among every graduating senior from Burnet High School through the HCCF.

“This endowment is really unique because it doesn't matter what college the graduates go to, whether it is a university, a community college, or a trade school, everyone gets a scholarship,” said compliance officer Deborah Page.

The fundraiser has been supported with donations and volunteer work from individuals and businesses around the community every year since its first go-round, including students from the Burnet FFA chapter who donate something they have built to each event for the live auctions. Johnson said these contributions are what have led to the fundraiser's continuing success.

“It is not us; it is the community,” Johnson said.

The Grand Finale will feature food, drinks, and live music by return entertainment from Nashville-based The Austin Brothers, a country band featuring Johnson's son, Jack. Guests are also invited to participate in silent and live auctions featuring a variety of donations from community members and local businesses.

One of the biggest items up for the live auction is a six-person trip to the Kentucky Derby, including airfare, hotel stay, and a night at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee, prior to the Derby.

Johnson and his crew also plan to further entertain guests with a fireworks show, weather permitting, as is fitting to a Grand Finale of this caliber.

“It is going to be an evening full of entertainment,” Johnson said.

Though the fundraisers are coming to an end, the legacy Suzanne left behind will forever be honored through the Suzanne Johnson Scholarship Endowment, which was able to thrive and now maintains a perpetual impact on Burnet's graduates through the help of the community in which she made such a difference.

The party starts Saturday, Sept. 15, at 5:30 p.m. at Hidden River Ranch, 10715 S. US 281, Lampasas.

Tickets for the Suzanne Johnson Scholarship Endowment Fundraiser Grand Finale are available on the Hill Country Community Foundation website,

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